Try to keep up

the herb garden in perfect scale with itselfBefore leaving on vacation, Gail didn’t write much of a to-do list for us. As she bolted out the door on the way to the beach she said only, “Just try to keep up with the gardens!” It is a daunting task. The combination of steamy tropical heat and a couple of stormy downpours have had opposite effects on gardens and gardeners. We have slowed right down as the gardens have shot up, changing before our very eyes. But even with blood as thick as molasses and sweating away gallons, we’ve managed to keep up doing things like weeding, deadheading, collecting heaps of seed from all of the pink peony poppies, and replanting the last few dahlias and some gladiolus. — Better late than never, I say. In any case, the way the season is going full steam ahead, it will be lovely to have some fresh blooms in the garden a little later than usual.

In one way, slowing down is not a bad way to keep up. Here is a very small selection of new favorite plants and combinations from a slow look around the Display Garden.

Nicotiana 'Crimson Bedder' and Eryngium planumNicotiana 'Crimson Bedder' and Coleus 'Redhead'

Nicotiana ‘Crimson Bedder’ is a loose 2′ tall plant with good sized bright red (slightly pinkish) blooms that looks excellent paired with just about everything (which is good because I tucked it in throughout the big bed in the Display Garden.)

Panicum elegans 'Frosted explosion' and Castor bean 'Pretty Purple'Hordeum jubatum - foxtail barley, and Rudbeckia

Panicum elegans ‘Frosted Explosion’ (left) and Hordeum jubatum – foxtail barley (right) are both new to us this year and I love them both. Frosted Explosion came with a warning to use it or lose it (it’s a great pick for arrangements) but we haven’t used it much nor have we been diligent about deadheading it. I’m really happy to report that it’s still producing new flowers even in all this heat. We rowed out the Hordeum jubatum in the cutting bed  and although I really love the way it looks flopped against its neighbor, I think it would be more effective planted in a border the same way we tucked in the panicum.

little frog on a lily padbig frog on a lotus leaf

Probably the most photographed combinations in the Display Garden lately are the new residents of the cement pond. The water garden is drying up despite the little bit of recent rain so we’re very happy that these two found a new home here.

Are you keeping up with your garden?

5 thoughts on “Try to keep up

  1. I’m drooling over that foxtail barley… but really want to know your secret for eryngium planum. I only WISH mine would look so beautiful and lush!

    Kim, hmmmm… I didn’t know there was a secret to eryngium – it even looks pretty good in my garden at home… It’s in rich soil here and poor at home – so it can’t be that. It’s watered occasionally here, but not at home – so it can’t be that. I’m sorry I don’t know why it looks so happy! -kris

  2. You are keeping up very well by the looks. I was just wondering today how the vegetable garden is looking?

    Layanee, the vegetable garden is looking really full! Every time I go down there, I’m amazed at how much everything has grown – it’s already time to watch those zucchinis – one day too many and they’re more suitable for target practice than dinner… -kris

  3. Cousins from Philadelphia, Camden, Me., and Rhode Island met up at Blithewold this past weekend for a reunion of sorts and I have to say, you guys are doing a great job in this awful weather. I especially enjoyed the vegetable garden. So many kinds of basil! Also liked how you’ve interplanted flowers. They provide a beautiful ornamental touch that’s easy for home gardeners to replicate. One reason we like to meet here is that the house and gardens still have the comfortable feel of a family home. The gardens aren’t pretentious or fussy and we felt perfectly at ease talking on the porch of the house for quite a while. It was a wonderful afternoon, despite the heat. Hope to visit again.

    Ginny, I’m so glad you enjoyed your visit! Thank you so much for your comment and compliments – that’s just what we hope to hear. Please come back soon – and introduce yourself! -kris

  4. Hi Kris, you have done a masterful job if you are doing all that labor in high heat and humidity! We also grew the Panicum and Hordeum this year. The Panicum is pretty cool, in a trough container and responded well to being cut back. The Hordeum is so tiny, but supposedly hardy here so maybe it needs more time. It was great to meet you in Buffalo! 🙂

    Frances, It was great to finally meet you too! Now you’ve got me curious about isolating the panicum – I might have to try it in a container next year and I’m really glad to know that it wouldn’t mind being cut back. I’m liking it better and better. -kris

  5. I love that foxtail barley. I’ve never seen it before. This heat has been really tough. I do a morning inspection (and tasting of my cherry tomatoes) before the heat kicks in and then I do my garden work after 4pm, hoping for a breeze. Thinking back to a piece you wrote for the East Bay Times about self-seeding annuals (like the cosmos you mention above), I have a question: are these plants able to self seed when they are surrounded by mulch? I was thinking that if the mulch is meant to keep weeds from growing, wouldn’t it also stop seeds from sowing? I’d love to see my cosmos come back, but it is in a mulched bed. Thanks!

    Kira, Sounds like you’ve got the heat routine down! To answer your question, it probably depends a bit on the mulch and when/if you replace it next season. In the Display Garden we use a light layer of shredded leaves, which does more to retain soil moisture than hold down the weeds and self sowers. It would be harder for your cosmos to find their way through a coarser mulch (bark or woodchip) but you could try waiting to see if any seedlings emerge before replacing it next year. -kris

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